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Francie Ward
 CEO Ideacafe.com

Francie's website

 

Q. What does a typical day at work consist of?
Organize priorities / email review / review priorities with 
colleagues / attack priorities / review progress with colleagues / at 
end of day, see what we've accomplished, so where we'll start tomorrow

Q. What is your office space like?
Former garage, converted into offices, spiced with Idea Cafe's bright color palette. I work at a u-shaped desk I designed and personally use 2 Macs and three monitors (I like to see a lot at once). We have a wall-to-wall whiteboard for visualizing ideas and plans.

Q. What inspired you to start Ideacafe.com?
Although I'd previously been involved in publishing business 
information, I felt the personal issues involved in owning a business deserved attention. Plus, since many people go into business to make their work life more fun, I wanted to serve up business help spiced with color and fun.

Q. What are some of the obstacles that you encountered when you were starting Ideacafe.com?
Assuming Idea Cafe would get venture funded (which we didn't), we wasted time looking for funding that could have been better spent just building the biz. Or, we could/should have accepted some of the funding offers we had -- in hindsight, we should have been more realistic from the get-go.

Q. What are some of the benefits and challenges to running Ideacafe.com?

Benefits:
Hearing from Idea Cafe Regulars how Idea Cafe has helped them feel they aren't alone in the challenges they face as biz owners, and how Idea Cafe gives them the courage to keep going and keep their sense of humor intact. (Their humor and enthusiasm helps me retain my sense of humor, despite the travails of biz.)

Challenges:
Like any small business, the work is ongoing, with little time to 
escape for a real break. It's tough to have to earn and collect money before you can spend it -- keeps us moving ahead slower than I'd like.

Q. Where do you see Ideacafe.com in five years?
I see Idea Cafe becoming even more of a magnet for small business owners, and a hub where entrepreneurs can network with each other human-to-human as clients and vendors, as well as professional friends. I see Idea Cafe being able to do even more to help people refer business to each other and have fun in the process.

Q. Where do you see the future of the dot com entrepreneurial industry going?
The Internet is becoming just another established channel for 
marketing and communications -- like direct mail, broadcast, etc.

Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see fledgling creative artists make in their business ventures?
Not paying attention to the math of business. Being right-brained, 
creative people just don't relate to the cut-and-dry world of math. 
But we've each got to find a way to understand the math of business adequately, and make it a point to review your financial status at regular intervals.

Q. Who are some of your role models?
* Johnnie Mae Davis, whom I worked under summers in college, showed me how to stay calm, no matter how flustered you feel in the midst of chaos and people doing weird things.
* I respect the Newman family (Paul, Joanne, Nell) for giving profits from their business to deserving groups they believe in, and for keeping a fun spirit in their businesses. (Following their example, Idea Cafe has set up our own grants program for small business owners -- I just wish we had deeper pockets so we could give grants to everyone who deserves one!)
* And I respect Oprah Winfrey for creating her own company, and retaining control of how her personality and skill are marketed.

Q. What advice do you have for people at the beginning of their entrepreneurial ventures?
* Don't wait until you think you have enough knowledge to start a 
business or take the next step. Just do it -- you'll figure out how 
in the process.
* Don't fret over what you can't do or aren't good at -- success is 
much more a factor of confidence than of skill or training.
* Remember, force yourself to keep your eyes on the math of your 
business (i.e. accounting, profit and loss, etc.). Get a bookkeeper to help you keep up with it, but YOU make the decisions and sign the checks.
* If you feel confused, down, or prone to procrastination, just drop by Idea Cafe www.ideacafe.com to get your creative energy flowing again.

Q. What do you do in your spare time?
My husband and I love to dance, so we're always on the lookout for a live band.